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Road game history hasn’t been kind to Cincinnati

With a big road test this weekend, history supports a Buckeye win.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“Spoiler - they are 0-6 in these games. It remains to be seen whether that trend can change this week, but there are some trends that you’ll notice in these games that the team needs to break in order to remain competitive.”

— Mike Schneid | Down the Drive

Luke Fickell has done a marvelous job turning around the Cincinnati Bearcats. They went 11-2 last season, and had a big win against UCLA in Los Angeles. However, you can make a serious case that the Bruins weren’t a marquee opponent; last year, the Chip Kelly lead program went an abysmal 3-9 in a weak Pac-12 conference.

Mike Schneid at SB Nation’s Down the Drive looked into how the Bearcats have done in the “big games” recently and, buddy, it’s not good news if you’re a UC backer. Conversely, it’s very good news if you’re an Ohio State Buckeyes supporter.

Looking at the last six big road games (Michigan, Miami (OH), Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Penn State), the Bearcats haven’t won any of them. In 2017, the Wolverines hosted UC, and throttled them 36-14. That was in Fickell’s first year as head coach of the program, so he was playing with a team that barely knew their new coach. The other five losses took place from 2005-14.

From a purely historical standpoint, the Bearcats haven’t fared well in big games when away from Nippert Stadium. The opposite argument is that the power programs won’t come to UC, so the Bearcats don’t have a chance to play home and homes.

Ohio State has fared well at home, especially against home state teams. However, they have let a couple big games slip through their fingers in front of the Columbus audience. Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Michigan State were three cases since the start of the College Football Playoff where the Buckeyes lost a high-profile game at home.

Are the Bearcats at the same level as an OU, or Va Tech. or MSU? No. But, with a team hungry on the road, especially after getting a second win against UCLA, all bets are off at what happens.

“Fickell, 46, lived almost his entire life in Columbus, was a three-time state champion wrestler and football star at DeSales, played for the Buckeyes and spent most of his coaching career at Ohio State. He served as coach during the ill-fated 2011 season before returning to an assistant’s role under Urban Meyer.”

— Bill Rabinowitz | The Columbus Dispatch

The Bearcats have become winners since Fickell took over the team. But before that, he was an Ohio State guy through and through. He attended DeSales, played on defense during the John Cooper years, and became a member of the coaching staff under Jim Tressel. After Tressel resigned, Fickell was the interim coach of his alma mater. While the record wasn’t great (6-7), he at least got the Buckeyes to a bowl game. When Urban Meyer arrived, Fickell was brought down into an assistant role.

In an article by Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch, Fickell talks about growing up as a Buckeye, and taking over the program for a year when Tressel left.

You get a real sense for what the established UC coach has gone through, especially when he was thrust into the OSU head coach position in 2011. Now eight years removed from that turbulent time in Buckeye history, Fickell was able to look back:

“I don’t think I did a very good job of leading and controlling and being consistent in how I lead.

That line right there shows the growth. And not just in a coaching capacity, but a leadership capacity. I believe this is the key ingredient for why UC did a tremendous job in 2018, and why expectations are high in 2019.

“It’s also the 17th meeting between the teams as the Buckeyes are ahead 14-2 in the series. The last time Cincinnati won was in 1897 in a 24-0 home win.”

— Stephen Means | cleveland.com

Road game history hasn’t been kind to the Bearcats. And when you look at the history against Ohio State, the history looks even worse. In 16 meeting between the two schools, Ohio State has won a commanding 14 of them.

The Buckeyes have won the last 11 meetings; since the turn of the century, the programs have met four times—with three of the games taking place in Columbus. The year Ohio State won the 2002/03 national championship, they faced the Bearcats at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Bucks were fortunate to escape with the win, 23-19.

You have to go all the way back to 1897 to find the last time UC toppled OSU. As noted in Stephen Means’ piece for cleveland.com, times have certainly changed since then. Two World Wars have taken place, technology has advanced, and the Buckeyes have won eight national championships.

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